Denise Kahler, Director of Communications, 785-296-4876
Board Members Review Transitional State Assessment and Proposed SMARTER Balance Assessment Tools
TOPEKA – During the October Kansas State Board of Education meeting, board members viewed demonstrations of the transitional state assessment that will be administered to students in the spring and the SMARTER Balance assessment that is being considered for the 2014-2015 school year.
Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) Consultant Kris Shaw provided a demonstration of the SMARTER Balance assessment to show board members what is meant by the term “technology-enhanced items.” In this case, technology such as the use of videos, audio recordings and “drag and drop” functionality are used to enable students to actually demonstrate their subject knowledge versus filling in a dot on a one-dimensional, multiple choice assessment. It is estimated that the Reading/Writing and Math portions of the SMARTER Balance assessment will each take three hours to complete, which will be accomplished over multiple class periods. The assessment is adaptive, meaning the difficulty of questions will increase or decrease depending on the performance of the student. This will provide a more accurate picture of a student’s learning progress. The assessments would then be scored using the Distributive Scoring method, which utilizes a mass of trained teachers to score the exams, and will eventually incorporate the use of computer scoring in the scoring process. As explained by Dr. Marianne Perie, co-director of KU’s Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation (CETE), the transition to computer scoring involves continually feeding hand-scored data to the computer until it can learn how humans are scoring. Once the computer begins scoring more accurately than humans, all scoring will be done by the computer.
Deputy Commissioner Brad Neuenswander reminded board members that KSDE’s analysis of prospective assessment tools is guided by the board’s definition of college and career ready standards. As such, the assessment selected will be the one that is most meaningful for the individual student. Said Neuenswander, “Student interest trumps being able to compare results from one building to the next.”
Until an assessment aligning with the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards (KCCRS) is selected for implementation starting with the 2014-2015 school year, KSDE has contracted with CETE to develop what is being called a transition assessment that will be administered for the 2013-2014 school year. Dr. Perie provided a demonstration of that tool for the board. The transitional assessment will consist of two 50 minute sections (Reading and Math) and all items will be linked to KCCRS. Dr. Perie explained that some items will integrate skills and concepts across the standards rather than tap only isolated skills within a single standard. This assessment will only include machine-scored items. CETE’s transitional assessment has used the SMARTER Balance blueprint in order to ensure it is emphasizing the same standards, however the transitional assessment will be a single item assessment, not adaptive as is SMARTER Balance. Should the Board of Education elect not to adopt the SMARTER Balance assessment, CETE is prepared to enhance the transitional assessment for use in its place. However, Dr. Perie cautioned that CETE’s current workload, which includes the development of assessments addressing the new standards for both Social Studies and Science, would delay extensive work on the revised assessment for at least two years. The board will make its formal decision in December regarding which assessment the state will adopt.
Colleen Riley, KSDE’s director of Early Childhood, Special Education, Title Programs, provided an update regarding the implementation of the new Emergency Safety Interventions (ESI) regulations that went into effect in April 2013. Riley reported that since August, KSDE has trained an additional 200 administrators on the new regulations, formed a workgroup with Disability Rights Center (DRC) and Families Together to identify and develop solutions for regulation implementation issues, presented at several conferences and has been in contact with Heartspring and Lakemary staff to discuss the regulations and problem solve on other behavioral interventions to meet the needs of students and staff. In addition to ongoing meetings with stakeholders, Riley’s team is preparing for presentations at the upcoming Autism Across the Lifespan Conference and the KSDE Annual Conference, as well as numerous training events. The ESI regulations, guidance document, recordings of training webinars and other resources are available on the Kansas Technical Assistance System Network website (www.ksdetasn.org).
Board members received a first look at the USDA’s proposed standards for all foods sold within a school, which will go into effect on July 1, 2014. As part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Child Nutrition Division, has the authority to establish nutrition standards for all foods and beverages sold outside of the Federal child nutrition programs in schools. This includes a la cart items in the cafeteria, school stores, snack bars, vending machines and any other place where food is sold in a school. School classroom parties would not be subject to these regulations, clarified Child Nutrition and Wellness Director Cheryl Johnson, “These regulations only apply to foods and beverages sold in school between midnight and 30 minutes after the end of the official school day.” Board member Carolyn Campbell expressed concerns regarding in-school fundraisers, which would fall under the regulations as currently proposed. Johnson advised that states will be able to establish exemptions to this regulation.
Board members will be reviewing current state policies for granting a Visiting Scholar license after having to deny a request for a course instructor for the highly respected Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) program, who did not meet the current licensing requirements. Individuals applying for a Visiting Scholar license must meet at least two of the following requirements: 1. Advanced course of study or extensive training in the area of licensure requested. 2. Outstanding distinction or exceptional talent in the field. 3. Significant recent occupational experience which is related to the field. With the surge in popularity for career and technical education taking place in Kansas, board members are questioning whether there should be more flexibility in the regulations to be able to license individuals who have the industry-related experience but whose credentials do not line up with the licensing criteria established by the board. The board agreed that they will re-examine the Visiting Scholar licensing criteria in light of the unique needs of career and technical education.
The next meeting of the Kansas State Board of Education will take place on November 12-13 at KSDE’s offices in the Landon State Office Building.